It’s becoming clockwork. Every five days when Mike Soroka takes the mound, the Braves come out with a stress-free victory. Monday night on the Bay was no different, as Atlanta’s emerging star cruised through a Giants offense that has had trouble hitting anybody this season.
Coming into the game, Soroka had the best ERA in the league (even though he doesn’t quite have enough innings to qualify) at 0.98 over six starts. He set down the first fifteen in a row, as the Braves jumped out to a 1-0 advantage on a leadoff home run off the bat of Ronald Acuña Jr. It was Acuña’s tenth home run of the season and the second game in a row he has started the game with a home run. He loves the leadoff spot, and after his experience batting cleanup, there is no reason to change a thing.
.@ronaldacunajr24 settles in for the first pitch …
And it’s gone. pic.twitter.com/fv7PwL2LR4
— MLB (@MLB) May 21, 2019
Both sides would remain quiet until the sixth inning, where another baby Brave would come through in style. With two outs and Nick Markakis on first, Riley unloaded a 424-foot moonshot to centerfield on a two-strike hanging curveball. It’s the 22-year old’s third home run of the season. He’s only been up for six games…
That same inning, Soroka would lose his perfect game, no-hitter, and shutout with one swift swing of the bat from Brandon Crawford who put the Giants on the board with a homer to straightaway center field. As you might expect, Soroka didn’t think too much about it. He stayed calm and went back to work, forcing the next three batters to ground out.
In the top of the seventh, it was Ronald Acuña again adding to the scoreboard with a mile long shot to dead center field, giving him eleven bombs on the season and three in his last two games. There was never grounds to be worried about Acuña. It was always just a matter of time before he got scorching hot. Now, it’s time to enjoy the ride. This could be a fun road trip for the Braves 21-year-old superstar.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 21, 2019
Soroka, who was barely at 70 pitches, came back out for the seventh inning. He retired three straight Giants after Josh Donaldson committed an error to put a runner on first. The Braves had an opportunity to add to their lead in the eighth, putting runners at the corners with nobody out, but Markakis, Riley, and Camargo could not push Freeman across the plate.
At 88 pitches, Snitker let Soroka begin the eighth. He struck out Kevin Pillar on three straight pitches, gave up a first-pitch single to Brandon Crawford then induced a double play to get out of the inning in just six pitches. It was vintage Soroka (if you can even say that about a 21-year-old). Charlie Culberson would pinch-hit for him in the ninth, ending his night with a line of 8 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, and 7 Ks.
Beating the lowly Giants should only earn so much applause, but the way the Braves went about it should make the mildest Braves’ fan crack a smile. Mike Soroka continues to prove his superstar capability. He allowed a run over eight innings and his ERA actually went UP to 1.01 for the season. Austin Riley is proving to be a piece that can catapult this offense and the team to the next level. Ronald Acuña is finally hitting his stride. And for the icing on the cake, Sean Newcomb finished the game in the first save opportunity of his career. He looked like he had been doing it his whole life, retiring the side in order, and tying the bow on a 4-1 Braves win.